Dr Amy Winship

Dr Amy Winship AIPS 2023 Vic Young Tall Poppy

Cancer therapies, like chemotherapy, can cause devastating side-effects for young female survivors, such as infertility and early menopause. Now, immunotherapies are revolutionising cancer therapy. They activate the patient’s immune system to target and kill tumour cells. Because they are so effective, patients are receiving these drugs before the full spectrum of side-effects have been tested.

Women are often excluded from clinical trials of new cancer therapies. Therefore, the impacts of immunotherapies on the female reproductive system were unknow. Dr Amy Winship’s research addressed this crucial knowledge gap.

Dr Winship’s recent data showed for the first time that immunotherapies cause an inflammatory response in the ovaries. This inflammation is damaging enough to kill the eggs stored within, which may have permanent impacts to fertility and hormone production that is necessary to support overall health in girls and women.

This finding has been ground-breaking in her field because it has uncovered entirely new interactions between the immune system and the ovary, which were previously unknown.

Dr Winship’s current studies are testing the long-term impacts of immunotherapies on hormone levels and pregnancy. At the same time, her team are testing multiple different protection strategies, including tests of an existing drug that is already approved to treat inflammation.